BRING YOUR CHECKBOOK
Angel King asked the State Attorney's Office for records related to her daughter's death. Sure, they said. That'll be $180 grand
Angel King wants public records from the State Attorney's Office, a lot of them, but the amount officials say they would cost to get could also buy her a nice house — about $180,000.
King has fought for nearly five years to learn more about her daughter's supposed suicide in Jacksonville Beach, which she strongly believes was not a suicide at all. She's repeatedly pressed Jacksonville Beach cops, prosecutors and medical examiners for more details about what she considers the suspicious circumstances surrounding her 24-year-old daughter's death.
Last week, she finally got what she's been waiting for from the State Attorney's Office after repeated requests — an email saying her records were available, and she can have them.
One little catch: The records would cost her $178,949.48.
And there will be more fees, the head of the office's public records division informed her, once King provides more specific information about other records she wants. Also, no work will begin until King provides a down payment of $89,475.
"I thought I was seeing things. I thought I was delusional," King says. "I was checking my emails right after going to bed. I saw the email and thought the name sounded familiar. When I started to close it out, I saw that $179,000 and I said, ‘What?'"
King's nightmare began the night of Nov. 11, 2009, when her daughter, Natasha Boykin, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the chest, in the home of her boyfriend. The boyfriend said he found her after he'd spent a night on the town, and called police. The gun she allegedly used was his.
The eventual ruling of suicide was based on initial reports from a botched investigation by Jacksonville Beach Police Department officers, King and private investigators who have looked into the case allege.
Boykin somehow used the gun to shoot herself in the chest, though the maneuver would have required her to hold the pistol in a manner in which she had to use her thumb to pull the trigger, according to outside forensics experts King has consulted. And Boykin's body had obviously been moved from where she died, based on the location of blood splatters, they said. King says she has found no records to indicate that detectives informed the medical examiner of that detail until well after the case was closed. (Folio Weekly requested records about the case from the State Attorney's Office, but was told that request would be put on a waiting list, so the records could not be retrieved by press time.)
The Medical Examiner's Office quickly ruled it as suicide, and State Attorney Angela Corey stated publicly that while tragic, there was nothing criminal about the case. The case was suspended, meaning it was basically closed.
That wasn't enough for King. She's sure someone killed her daughter, but the medical examiner and Corey relied on that allegedly botched investigation to make their final disposition, she believes.
So King went on the attack, trying to get public records to support her theory. But she says she ran into roadblocks at just about every turn.
Before she received the $180,000 estimate, King had already paid more than $2,000 for her few successful attempts to get records.
Jackie Barnard, director of communications for the State Attorney's Office, says her office has responded to every request King has made.
"She has put in several requests and this is the latest request," Barnard says. "She has had complete access to what she wanted. We have responded to every request — whether we could fulfill it, or if we didn't have the records, or when we needed more information from her about what records she was requesting."
But King sees it differently. She says the reluctance of any of the investigating agencies to release information led her to file a blanket request, asking not just for records concerning her daughter's death, but for all correspondence, records, tape recordings and more between the agencies involved in the investigation.
She filed that request in March, and was told she had to be more specific. She re-filed it in June, and a few weeks later received news that her request would be honored, but at a huge cost.
In her email to King, assistant state attorney Brittany O'Neil, of the office's public records division, said the estimate was based on numerous factors, including attorneys' hours for reviewing documents, clerical work to collect it, redactions to some of the documents, making copies and numerous other tasks that would be needed to meet her request.
Barnard agrees the estimate was steep. "I am being told that this is rare," she says. She adds there have been other huge records requests and large estimates that eventually were whittled down when the people requesting them pared down their requests to more specific information.